June 6, 2013

Old Books

Good morning, everyone.  I am taking a break today from my 'road trip memories' and am offering up this small teaser instead.  What do Avonlea, The Shire, Godric's Hollow, Pemberley, Narnia, Hundred Acre Wood, Thornfield Hall, Craigh na Dun and Winterfell all have in common?  I feel a project coming on, but can you guess what it is?


I was restless last night, and finally ended up on the sofa with an old companion, a book that I seem to pull off the shelf whenever I am feeling a bit blue.  Laddie, by Gene Stratton Porter, is like an old friend, we know each other well and the book reminds me that goodness and kindness never go out of fashion, even if the world seems crazy at the moment.  Poet Margaret Widdemer understood that as well, when she wrote this lovely poem, Old Books.

THE people up and down the world that talk and laugh and cry,
They're pleasant when you're young and gay, and life is all to try,
But when your heart is tired and dumb, your soul has need of ease,
There's none like the quiet folk who wait in libraries–
The counselors who never change, the friends who never go,
The old books, the dear books that understand and know!
"Why, this thing was over, child, and that deed was done,"
They say, "When Cleopatra died, two thousand years agone,
And this tale was spun for men and that jest was told
When Sappho was a singing-lass and Greece was very old,
And this thought you hide so close was sung along the wind
The day that young Orlando came a-courting Rosalind!"

The foolish thing that hurt you so your lips could never tell,
Your sister out of Babylon she knows its secret well,
The merriment you could not share with any on the earth
Your brother from King Francis' court he leans to share your mirth,
For all the ways your feet must fare, the roads your heart must go,
The old books, the dear books, they understand and know!
You read your lover's hid heart plain beneath some dead lad's lace,
And in a glass from some Greek tomb you see your own wet face,
For they have stripped from out their souls the thing they could not speak
And strung it to a written song that you might come to seek,
And they have lifted out their hearts when they were beating new
And pinned them on a printed page and given them to you.
The people close behind you, all their hearts are dumb and young,
The kindest word they try to say it stumbles on the tongue,

Their hearts are only questing hearts, and though they strive and try,
Their softest touch may hurt you sore, their best word make you cry.
But still through all the years that come and all the dreams that go
The old books, the dear books, they understand and know!

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